Caen & Mt. St. Michel

Our last day in Normandy we spent between 2 places, the Caen Memorial and Mont St. Michel.  The Caen Memorial is a museum detailing World War II.  It is an encapsulating museum, we could’ve easily spent all day in there.  There were informative films, and expansive exhibits about almost every part of the war you could think of.

Sculpture outside the memorial.

 In the afternoon, we drove out to Mont St. Michel.  A small island with an impressive abbey built upon it.  Unfortunately there was a strike going on while we were there and the abbey was closed early, so we weren’t able to go in.  There’s really not much else to the island except a narrow street packed with tourist shops and restaurants.  It was disappointing to not be able to go in, but still quite impressive to see from the outside.

 

We came, we saw (from the outside).

This was baby girl’s first time in her Ergo, you can see her little arms and legs poking out.  She’s become a big fan of it, and I have to say I am too!  It’s super comfortable and she usually goes right to sleep.  Happy baby=happy parents 🙂

Normandy

The next day was spent visiting different World War II sites.  First stop was Arromanches, the site of Port Winston.  We had never heard of this before but it is really interesting and impressive.  When the British and Americans were planning the invasion on D-Day, they knew that they would need a way to bring in equipment, troops, and supplies once they had taken over the area.  So they made a plan to construct a harbor at Arromanches to be able to do so.  They built huge concrete caissons to use as breakwaters, bridges and piers.  They made everything in the U.K. and towed it across the English Channel to here.  They actually built another one near Omaha Beach but a storm destroyed in within a matter of days.  At Arromanches however, there are still some surviving structures and you can see the perimeter of the harbor they were able to construct.

Some surviving parts of the port, if you look on the horizon you can see where the perimeter was

This is a better picture from above the town and some of the remaining structures.

From wikipedia

There is a good little museum that outlines how the port was built and used during the war.  We were really surprised and interested to learn about it.

Next we went over to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.  This is the cemetery where around 10,000 american soldiers who fought in World War II are buried.  If you’ve ever seen Saving Private Ryan, it’s the place where the movie opens.  It sits on a piece of land overlooking Omaha Beach, where the americans invaded on D-Day.

Hard to imagine such a beautiful beach was the site of such a gruesome battle.
The amount of crosses is staggering.  They are beautiful but sobering at the same time.

The cemetery is free and has a small museum that is very helpful to understanding the war timeline and the D-Day invasion.  These kind of experiences are the painful reminders of what some people have given in order to serve our country.  It’s something important I think we should try to remember   Though this was almost 70 years ago, we still have people paying the ultimate sacrifice in serving the U.S.  Hopefully it is a reminder of how blessed you are to have the life that you do with your loved ones.

Honfleur

Last month we were able to get away for about a week to France.  We have been trying to do trips where we’re able to drive because it’s so much easier to be able to pack as much as you want rather than worry about baggage restrictions on an airplane.  We started out on a Thursday night driving halfway to Normandy.  We stayed at a small family-run B&B in the Champagne country between Reims and Paris.  This was our first time to stay at a B&B instead of a hotel.  We had a great experience.   Our room was huge, the family was very sweet and accommodating.  We were the only people there so the experience was very personal.  This is a picture of our wonderful breakfast that was laid out when we woke up.

Well, what was left of our breakfast after we devoured it I suppose.  There was a full, fresh baguette on the table, a croissant for each of us, a huge wedge of brie, homemade jams, our own pots of coffee, and fresh orange juice.  So delicious!

 The Brie we had at breakfast was from a local area, Meaux.  It comes in a huge wheel, almost the size of a car tire, no joke.

A family pic in front of the B&B before getting back on the road.

We loved our stay there, and actually we got to see it for a second time on our way back home because I accidentally left my iphone there!!  Not exactly the way I would’ve liked to go back, but thank goodness the owners found it and saved it for me!

Before this trip I associated Normandy only with the D-Day invasion during World War II, however we were able to experience some other aspects to the region.  The first place we went was Honfleur.  It was an old Nordic fishing village.  Today it is a cute, colorful town full of charming restaurants, calvados (apple brandy), hard cider, and caramel.

Seaside Carousel
Daddy posing with baby girl, it will be a little while longer before she’s able to ride the carousel

We really enjoyed the day here.  We ate delicious foods-salad with goat cheese toast, mussels, and a Speculoos crepe.  Yum!  We shopped around, and visited an old church made of wood and designed to look like a ship inside.  A nice, relaxed day to start out our vacation!